Happy new year! It’s been a little while, I’ve been enjoying my last winter break ever! I’m officially starting my last semester of college next week which is both thrilling and horrifying. With the end of my college experience comes the impending pressure of the big bad “real world” I’ve heard so much about. Weirdly enough, between trying to make rent each month and suffering from crippling loan debt, I feel like the “real world” and I already are pretty well aquatinted? Anyway, I’ve decided to share with you some of my LinkedIn tips for college students! I’ve started applying to internships and jobs around the country and LinkedIn has been an amazing resource!
If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn, it’s basically a social media for job searching. You can create your resume and include your entire professional history including but not limited to education, volunteer, and work experience. You can also connect with peers and potential employers, which is a great way to find new job opportunities!
If you’re in college, you for sure need a LinkedIn! I’ve already explained the importance of having an Instagram in college and starting a college blog, and a LinkedIn is the final key to the crazy puzzle of career building! Having a LinkedIn profile makes it easy to share your information with future employers, and most job applications nowadays have an option to include your LinkedIn profile. These LinkedIn tips for college students will revolutionize your career search experience!
What if I don’t have any experience?
This is something I hear all the time. Let me clear it up right now once and for all: if you’re in college, you have experience. If you’ve ever worked a summer job, volunteered, or joined an on-campus organization, you’ve got stuff to put on your profile! Here are some LinkedIn tips for college students to consider adding to their profile:
- Work experience, especially if it’s relevant to your career. I personally choose not to include my part time retail and restaurant gigs, since those aren’t really relevant to what I want to do professionally. However, don’t underestimate the importance of customer service experience! Part time jobs show your work ethic and service skills, so you’re gift shop job might be more valuable than you think!
- Clubs/Organizations. I like to include these under my college/high school. These can show leadership skills as well as relevant interests.
- Travel. I’m not encouraging you to add your spring break vacation to Cancun onto your LinkedIn profile. But if you have any impressive travel or study abroad experience, don’t be afraid to add it! For instance, I have a rare naval status called Emerald Shellback which occurs after performing the Neptune Ceremony while crossing the equator at the prime meridian on a ship. I know it sounds wild, but it’s stuff like that which stands out on a resume.
- Scholarships/Honors. If you’ve made the dean’s list this past year, include that! If you won a merit scholarship or other academic achievement, include that! Employers admire academic success, so don’t be afraid to show off your smarts!
- Career goals. One of my favorite parts about LinkedIn is the summary section which allows you to share a little bio about yourself! I would recommend keeping it short and to the point, but don’t be afraid to let your personality show. If you’re lacking career experience, this is a great place to share what you see yourself doing or what you’ve accomplished in college this far.
Include a Professional Photo
One of the biggest LinkedIn no-no’s I see way too often is young people using the wrong profile picture. This is not a place for Instagram selfies. There should be no filters or distractions, and it should be taken with a quality camera if possible. You should be dressed appropriately for the job you’re applying for. Thus, if you’re interested in a career in fashion, you might take more bold style choices than if you are planning on an office job. If you’re completely at a loss for what to do for your LinkedIn profile picture, don’t stress! Put on a nice business-esque shirt, and find a friend to photograph you against a white wall in natural light. It’s that simple! It’s proven that profiles with pictures are 40% more likely to be considered over faceless profiles, so this is pretty important. One of my biggest LinkedIn tips for college students is to have a nice, appropriate photo!
Create a Custom URL
This is something I only recently discovered, but it’s been a game changer when it comes to completing job applications! Your default profile URL will be overwhelmingly lengthy and confusing. Luckily, you can change it into something simple and easy to include on your resume and cover letter! To change your LinkedIn URL, go to your profile, click “contact info” and hover over your profile URL to change it. I would suggest only changing this URL to your name, or your first initial and last name if your name is taken. This definitely isn’t the place for your old MSN Messenger username!
Adding projects to your profile is one of my biggest LinkedIn tips for college students! This is a great way to share your accomplishments when you have a limited amount of professional experience. I include projects relating to my blog, for the most part, but this is the perfect place to share impressive school projects or side gig’s you’ve accomplished. Do you run a successful Etsy shop? Do you consistently post for your school’s literary magazine on Facebook? These are all projects you should link to on your LinkedIn profile!
Follow Businesses You’re Interested In
If you’re just starting college, you might not be ready for this tip yet. However, if you’re in your final year of college, it’s time to start following businesses. Odds are you have some idea what kind of company you’re hoping to work for in the next few years. Start following relevant businesses so you can check their updates and job postings regularly. Even if it’s your “dream job,” go ahead and add it! If you have absolutely no idea where to start, join relevant group’s to see how other people in the field are approaching their job search or careers.
Check your college connections
One of my favorite features on LinkedIn is the alumni connections page for your particular college or university! It’s simple, just search your college or university on LinkedIn, and you’ll be presented with a lot of useful information. You can see where other graduates work now, and what fields they’ve chosen. From here, you can make valuable connections with organizations you’re interested in, or even just get some ideas for future job searches.
LinkedIn Tips for College Students
Hopefully, I gave you some useful tips for LinkedIn! At first, LinkedIn can be intimidating! Trust me, I get it! Once you get started, however, it gets super exciting to watch your connections and profile grow! Expect less posts on college on this blog and more career posts as I transition between college and post-grad life. Also, feel free to add me as a connection on LinkedIn! What are your tips for LinkedIn? Do you have and post-grad plans figured out yet?